Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Media


Well the book is finished with weeks to spare, so I finally have time to reflect on my stay in Brighton. Apart from the grind of writing, typing and editing, I have spent some time absorbing its culture. On the big picture, the role of the media has dominated the news during my time here, with the Murdoch press being put under the microscope for possible indiscretions.
It was interesting to observe the public reaction to these events as they have lived with a competitive, sensationalist press for many decades. As an Australian, I feel that is a direction our own press is increasingly emulating.
My view was the English drew a collective sigh of relief that the power of the media was being called to account by its politicians. I say that though, knowing that on the ‘recta-scale’ of trust, politicians and journalists run equal last. But it seems that in the last decade, the concentration of media power has allowed journalists to move up that dubious ladder, to leave the politicians floundering at the bottom, seeking favour from them, their aim to become less hated than their political competitors. Of course for the public this can be entertaining sport, helping them forget their own problems in life, but with each stab at our institutions, comes a building up of unease within our society.
For myself, I sat enthralled, watching a British Parliamentary committee attempt to gain the facts from a powerful media baron and an (ex) Australian to boot!
This debate has raged over the relationship between politicians, police and journalists, making it clear that imbalance between these areas of endeavour can have a sometimes unhealthy impact on our society. History tells us that politicians (rulers) have been the worst of the offenders and quite rightly require a vigorous press. But it seems over the last decade that the press have gained the advantage, shaping societies’ views on a whole range of subjects, including how they should be ruled.
The media is in a good position to feel the pulse of their people and their aspirations, which can be a good thing, binding society and providing a collective voice of sorts. But when this voice presumes what’s best for it by actively seeking government change, it treads dangerous ground.
The British parliamentary committee was mainly reviewing the issue of phone hacking, but the concern that politicians were courting powerful media interests to seek favour was never far from the debate.
Writing full time has afforded me many privileges (money not one of them!), one being I have the time to read and analyse the daily papers. As informative as that can sometimes be, I admit to a growing unease with the preparedness of Australian ‘commentators’ and ‘editors’ to forcefully recommend ‘regime change’.
This no doubt has been encouraged by a forceful opposition, which on the whole is a good thing for the country. But this does not mean that the media should present similar opinions in their paper, whatever political persuasion they intend to assassinate. I have been discouraged by the pro-political party stance of some newspapers, the latest climate change debate a case in point. It seems that special commentators, shock jocks and even editors have taken it upon themselves to call for a new election, not even a third of its way through what is a very small term (three years) anyway.
Somehow, they consider this a responsible way in which to inform the public. That being, if the government is not popular or does not stand by every word promised in an election campaign, it should be removed. Any long term policy, particularly those aimed at nation building, by their very nature are complex and will always upset one interest group or another. By all means, criticise the many players in these complex debates, but don’t spoil good investigative research with politicisation.       
If this type of commentary continues to dominate Australian news, I believe our nation too will draw a collective sigh of relief when our media, like the British face a strong purposeful parliamentary committee to address the imbalance between press and parliamentary power. Achieving balance between these forces is impossible to get right, but regular open and transparent reviews of that dynamic can’t hurt.
An open parliamentary committee that reviews the regulations and regulatory processes of the media is surely a good thing for democracy, particularly at a time when some sections of the media openly calls for an early election, possibly followed by another (double dissolution).
This can only be bad for a stable democracy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Second Wave

I've come to the 'second wave' of my holidays in England. The tourist musings are over and my work begins in ernest. My 'blog proper' commences from this first day in June and will include: mostly my thoughts and experiences as I write my fourth novel, but also general thoughts about my week. Most likely this will consist of ramblings on science (mainly cosmology), philosophy and religion.

It's hard to return to the discipline of regular writing after a two month rail tour across Europe. I know I should have armed myself with pen and paper and become a travel scribe, but after two solid years of writing (three novels) a holiday seemed appropriate. That said, I set a date in the sand - June 1, 2011. Well here it is, not exactly Tim Winton, but hopefully in the days and months ahead the quality of my entries will return to a half acceptable literary level.

First ramblings

Sitting in a cafe on New Street Brighton relaxing over a coffee as all outside in the cold blowy weather rushing to and fro - I used to live that life, deadlines, committments to work colleagues, friends and family. It's important, the battle for survival and support of your inner sanctum, but if you get it half right (in older age) there's a small window of opportunity to lead a more considered life, free from the ebb and tide of social structures and their ever increasing fads. So what endures? What remains as a permanent thread of life? Classical music - well that has endured a handfull of centuries. A good bottle of Bordeau? Even less. Philosophy holds promise but a relatively new pursuit - as is science. Religion? Not my cup of tea. Perhaps science holds a measure of hope in my future as it tries to impassionately measure how we could best survive in a hostile world.

So for me, survival in all its forms holds our attention as it firmly grasps our small lives of around a century if we are lucky. With that in mind I sit in this busy cafe and appreciate the small window of time I have been offered to reflect on enduring themes of human life - Its why I write speculative fiction.

What endures in a social setting that is littered with the swings and mood changes of social fads? Thought, religion, philosopy, science all help us connect with a fundamental truth. We can choose to face that world of reality ahead of fantasy and still hold on to our childhood wonder about the beautiful complex world we live in.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sarastro

If you get a chance head to Drury Lane and dine at my favourite restaurant in London, Sarastro. Looking more like an opera theatre than a restaurant it's certainly a winner with its combination of atmosphere and good food- it's reasonably priced too!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's official - Gift of the gab!

Well it took 56 years, but I now officially have the gift of the gab having kissed the blarney stone in Killarney. Quite a daunting task as you look down a hundred metres to the drop below as you kiss the famous old stone. But an uplifting experience on a cold Irish day. Time for a guiness!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Think I'll go cruising today!

It's got to be a tough life in Monaco! Large lines of million dollar boats moored in the famous little country made for an imposing site from high above the country's fleet.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My new home!

Just sailed Lake Lucerne, my new favourite city. I would shift there in a flash but there is a twelve year waiting list! Beautiful clean city with glorious lake and mountains.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

People I'd Like to Meet in.....

The people you run into! Spent the day searching the hustle and bustle of Rome and saw one of the 'cameo characters' in my new novel. Had to take a photo. I like the way the sun's rays streamed over the master theorist of light, space and time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life in Italy

Had to post this shot - my favourite photo of the beautiful Venice.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rest In Peace!


Well I know I'm heading to England! I sold my baby on the weekend. It was hard to watch it being driven away for the last time but I controlled my emotions - boys and their toys!